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Yes, America Still Needs Unions

Posted on Feb 24, 2011

By Joe Conason

“There was once a need for unions, but they’ve outlived their purpose,” said a nice lady interviewed on the radio in Tennessee just the other day. Annoyed by the spectacle of tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, cops and other public employees rallying to protect their rights in Wisconsin, she was saying what more than a few Americans think about the labor movement.

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They ought to think again—unless they want their children and grandchildren to become the peons of a corporate oligarchy.

Behind the vague notion that unions are somehow obsolete is the suggestion that workers—and their families—are amply protected by the law’s provisions prohibiting child labor and mandating minimum wages, safe working conditions, overtime pay and all the other standards that we now take for granted.

But if you listen carefully to “conservatives” of the ilk of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and billionaire financier David Koch, you’ll learn that they want to do away with most if not all of those advances, hard won by the labor movement and its allies over the past century. Their core belief is that the state should never interfere with capital—and therefore every law defending workers or consumers is a constitutional abomination. Their ultimate project is to return this country to the absolute dominion of the wealthy that existed before the rise of the Progressive Movement and the New Deal.

Politicians like Walker know better than to articulate their goals so unappealingly. Invariably, they prefer to talk about fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets, hoping that nobody will notice (in Wisconsin or Washington) how they squander vast sums on tax breaks for the wealthy while demanding “sacrifice” from the middle class and the poor. Breaking unions is the only way, they tell us, to restore jobs and ensure prosperity.


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But if you thumb back through the pages of our economic history over the past hundred years or so, a number of obvious facts stand out. First, the United States enjoyed a far better distribution of income and a steady improvement of our productivity and power when the labor movement was strong. Second, labor always struggled to expand human and civil rights for everyone, whether or not they happened to belong to unions. And third, the success of labor’s effort toward a more equitable society ensured broad prosperity for decades. As labor’s power diminished, income and wealth skewed upward—and helped drive the economy into stagnation and recession.

So Americans not only display ingratitude when they denigrate unions, which have done so much to improve the lives of ordinary people, but ignorance as well. Even in its terribly weakened condition, the labor movement remains a bulwark against the kind of corporate tyranny that would swiftly make serfs of the rest of us.

This week, a prankster pretending to be David Koch phoned Gov. Walker and recorded their chummy, obnoxious, highly revealing conversation. Hearing the governor eagerly agree as his top contributor rambled on about union “bastards” was like listening to a conversation between a robber baron and a servile politician of the Gilded Age. Here was the new version of the unvarnished “conservatism” that ruled us before our forebears learned to stand upright, join together and fight for democracy.

It is more than a funny coincidence that the Wisconsin uprising echoes the revolutionary democratic fervor currently sweeping across North Africa and the Mideast.

Common to every dictatorship, from the fascist and communist despots of the 20th century to their counterparts in today’s authoritarian societies, is the impulse to forbid workers from organizing. The legacy of those who established those rights with their blood and toil, both here and abroad, is not ours to surrender to bullies such as Walker and Koch. Like all of our liberties, it is a trust to be guarded—by every means available.

© 2011

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By Inherit The Wind, March 3, 2011 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

Government workers shouldn’t make more than people in the private sector who are paying their salaries.

Right. When John Boehner and Mitch McConnell and Scott Walker are willing to work for minimum wage and no health care benefits we’re gonna get good government.  Right.

When your local police make $7.15 an hour with no benefits, and crime is rampant in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters?

When your house is on fire and the firemen make $7.15 an hour you think anyone’s go rush in to save your house or family?
Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters?

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By Leefeller, March 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm Link to this comment

Nasty Redhead, not everyone has access to the Internet and from what I understand special interests are attempting to manipulate INTERNET usage, though I agree the Internet can be a useful tool.

Since I live in the boonies, I pay a lot than I prefer for r a poor satellite connection and am thinking of dropping it, so I may be with out interment in the near future, unless I go to town and use Wifi, but with the price of fuel over $4.00 dollars a gallon, my trips to town will be limited, plus when in town I have other chores to do.

I suppose people in the cities do not have these issues, but other differing kinds of problems to deal with?

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By Nasty Redhead, March 1, 2011 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You are all living in the 19th & 20th Century. When Egypt kicked out their dictator they had no Union. They had the internet, face book, and twitter. Why can’t workers organize without paying Union dues in Wisconsin and all over America?

Get with the times people!

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By Leefeller, March 1, 2011 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

Houston, your plea to ignorance may be bogus, but I will play.

Using the words regulate and anarchy are both interesting, for neither is correct. The indoctrinated anti Union manual prefers to call unions socialist, anything collectively supporting the people in this nation is labeled as socialist   in the name of smaller government, usually by the smaller minds in this nation! We must ignore Big Oils subsidies and of course the bale out, according to the supremes,..... corporations are people now?

I know little about Teachers Unions, you should ask Rico, he seems quite the expert on the matter of Unions,  According to Rico,  I am to believe Teachers have it Cushy (his word) so Rico seems to know much more about unions than I and others here.

If Rico doesn’t get back to you I can ask a neighbor lesbian teacher widow lady down the road about her Teachers Union.

By the way Houston, being a pest control person, it would seem regulations should be an intriguing part of your job and I do not believe negotiators are involved.

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By Houston, February 28, 2011 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I find this argument interesting. It seems people are suggesting that unions are necessary to keep corporations inline because government cannot. If so then they are suggesting that the private sector regulate the private sector. Seems a bit on the anarchy side of things.

Excuse my ignorance as I am just a pest control guy and have no union experience.  But are teacher’s required to join a union? Can a union vote in bulk for teachers? If a teacher doesn’t align themselves with a union do they still loose some of their salary to the union?

Again, I am a bit ignorant, but it seems that you are just exchanging one tyrant for another.

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By Leefeller, February 27, 2011 at 10:09 pm Link to this comment

Patrick Henry very endearing…..... Hypocrisy never had it so good! I wounder if Walker was a member of the bad actors guild like Reagan?  Bonzo for Governor!

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By Leefeller, February 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm Link to this comment

Ricos back up? Cushy teachers have it so good.

Ignoring the real problem call me roy, it had nothing to do with Unions, it was the Bale out .........!  How about eight years of war? Yeah blame it on the Unions, they are only a small percentage of what is left of the working class, we need to take them down to non union wages to roys level of acceptance. Cant have anyone makeing more money then Roy,.... can we?

Yeah the teachers (an all encompassing statement) teach kids to hate the USA, .....where in hell do you pull this stuff from?  what in hell are you doing roy…sounds like teaching your kids to hate their teachers because of Johnson?

We can add roy to RD’s list.

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By call me roy, February 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm Link to this comment

The official, but unannounced motto of the National Teacher Unions in the 1960’s and 1970’s was: “subvert from within and CYA (Cover Your A#*).” After the Department of Education was formed (which they control), they could and do subvert openly. They have purposely dumbed down America while at the same time brainwashing our children with political correctness, sexual perversity, and in short, teaching kids to have a negative view of America and a negative view of American history.
In 1966, the USA had one of the top three best public education systems in the world. In 1966, the federal government, under LBJ, began the dismantling of the public education system, by taking federal control over public education, which had always been a state and local function. Today, after only 44 years of federal, centralized control over public schools, we now have one of the worst public education systems in the world, and in fact, we are now rated as the twenty-eighth best public education system in the world, trailing many banana republics. We are turning out high school and college graduates who are functionally illiterate, one hundred percent ignorant, and one hundred percent brainwashed. Our public schools now function as indoctrination centers, and it is due to this dumbing down and brainwashing that we now have a Communist serving as President. The Communists take control by destroying traditions, customs, values, beliefs, language, and borders. They attack our religious institutions. They attack family unity. They know that they have to take the hearts and minds of the children. This is why the Obama Administration is pushing for mandatory attendance in government schools all the way down to age 2.

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By call me roy, February 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment

Government workers shouldn’t make more than people in the private sector who are paying their salaries. Moreover, if you look at the budget problems state and local governments are having, you’ll find union benefits and pensions are usually a core part of the problem. Add to that the fact that unions have become extremely nasty, polarizing, thuggish, and incredibly greedy in recent years and the sympathy level for them should be pretty close to zero.
In Wisconsin, you’ve got teachers closing down the schools via a “sick-out” (Yeah, they really care about the kids they’re teaching). They’re also getting students to march for them, which is disgusting. Parents trust teachers to instruct their kids and they’re using that opportunity to fill their heads with propaganda and use them for their own purposes.
Why all this drama? Because Wisconsin is broke and they’re desperately trying to pay their bills, take back some of the overly generous payments that have been given to unions, and prevent the unions from continuing to break the state’s budget. While everybody else is suffering in a recession and trying to figure out how to pay our bills, the teachers’ unions of Wisconsin want to keep living high on the hog at everyone else’s expense.
America’s education system is in crisis. Test scores show us that students across America are performing at levels far below their peers overseas. In addition to test scores that aren’t up to par, graduation rates are shamefully low. There is no doubt that America’s students deserve better.
In a rapidly changing world, our students are not being taught the basic knowledge and skills they need to succeed. It’s time to get to the root of the problem.
America’s teachers unions — particularly the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers — are the most organized and powerful voices in education politics. These unions continue to block reforms needed to improve our nation’s schools by putting their focus on teachers rather than on the students they teach.
Our education system is in desperate need of reform and it’s time we stop letting teachers unions stand in the way.

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By ardee, February 27, 2011 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

rico, suave, February 27 at 3:09 pm

Being called slanderous, by one who slanders the very definition of democracy with every post, is nothing but sad.

You did indeed say that which I noted, and you and I both know it.

As to Leefeller’s opinion that this jackwagon and grym are two differing people. I have my own opinion, that they are conjoined twins, and he has his. But to say that they are not political equals who share a dismal view of democracy, who support the creeping fascism encroaching upon our nation, is simply absurd.

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By call me roy, February 27, 2011 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

The American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is the largest labor federation in America, consisting of 57 autonomous and international unions. For decades, under the leadership of George Meany and Lane Kirkland, this entity was a bastion of anti-communism. In fact, Meany invited Alexandre Solzhenitsyn to speak at AFL-CIO meetings and brought awareness of Soviet human rights abuses to U.S. audiences. Kirkland, for his part, used his power to funnel more than $6 million in aid to Polish workers — aid that was instrumental in Solidarity’s successful effort to end 50 years of Communist Party rule in Poland. But after Lane Kirkland’s retirement in 1995, John Sweeney became president of the AFL-CIO and was able to repeal an AFL-CIO rule prohibiting Communists from being leaders of its member unions. Abandoning the blue-color industrial unionism of the past, Sweeney, a member of Democratic Socialists of America, was instrumental in remaking labor into a movement of the Left. With George Meany heading the AFL-CIO, the New Left saw the labor movement as what it termed a reactionary institution, in which workers supported the very forces that oppressed them, leaving the forces of change emanating only from the black underclass the “lumpenproletariat” in Marxist jargonand students who were their natural allies. But today’s Left went back in inspiration to the 1930s, and like the Communists and Socialists of that era, once again sought to forge a new partnership between student radicals and the labor movement. Their hopes broadened once Lane Kirkland’s post-Meany leadership dissolved, and the AFL-CIO went into the hands of John Sweeney and his associates, who staffed the upper echelons of the new staff positions with graduates of the 60s Left. The result was most visible in the participation of the AFL-CIO in the student led “anti-globalization” riots in Seattle and Washington, DC; as well as in the new foreign policy arm of the AFL-CIO, that disbanded the anti-Communist activities of labor’s foreign policy arm and began to concentrate instead on issues like opposition to NAFTA and boycotting of sweatshops in Third World countries.

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By rico, suave, February 27, 2011 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment


Your uncle is not like me at all. And “racist?” Where did you get that?

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By Peetawonkus, February 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment

No, you are not the only one who sees a pattern here. Millions do. But they’re not the millions with the guns and the money. We know from history that in the United States we had a system very much like that to which the Tea Baggers would like to return us. It was changed, one painful step at a time. It wasn’t changed because a bunch of liberals had some good ideas. It wasn’t changed because some intellectuals explained to the ruling class that entitling The People to more rights and freedoms would make the world a better place. It changed because of mass action, because of demands from below not “trickle down” morality. Everything we consider progress was either illegal at one time or considered as such by the ruling class. In many, many places it was war and People died. Nothing, I repeat, Nothing changes except by mass action. It would seem we will have to learn these lessons all over again. Or get used to living as a permanent serf class held in place by an increasingly repressive security apparatus.

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By Leefeller, February 27, 2011 at 12:51 pm Link to this comment

Destroying Unions has been an ongoing project for just about ever. Special interests, always looking for that pot of money, now focusing on public service employees, special interests say they in in the private sector can do it for less, lets dump SSI and let people place their money in Wall Street.

In the state of Indiana it seems their governor supposedly successfully eliminated collective bargaining rights of its state employees and has privatized other sections which used to be governmental services. This happened 5 years ago? From what I have read New Jersey has done the same?


It seems elimination of collective bargaining provides power of control to the governor and drops any interference by unions, so no negotiation rights means a savings to the state in Indiana’s case,..... this the argument anyway. Are we hearing the truth?

What happens is privatizations supports the good old boy capitalized Wal Mart low wages agenda, and of course no benefits, this saves the state a bundle.  Seniority is bad for business, why should people who worked longer be paid more, so fire them and hire new employees, maybe make them part time, even better no benefits, more manipulations and control for the state.

The Tea Baggers applaud Walker saying they want a smaller government, so they support the cutting of domestic programs while ignoring the Military Complex waste at the federal level. Cut, cut, but ignore Money paid out to other countries emulating the mobs protection racket. Guess the Koch Brothers want a smaller government too?  Lets get rid of those pesky regulations, we know no regulations works so well,..... what do you think bail outs are for?

It looks very bleak for the working people of this nations, many now unemployed.  Lets ignore the many jobs sold over seas, the great successes of out sourcing. So it seems cutting back on the working people of government is the next plan.

The Koch Brothers have your interests at heart!

Am I the only one who sees a pattern here?

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By Peetawonkus, February 27, 2011 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

So, essentially you love anything in the government that involves guns. But not anything that actually benefits human beings. Except as it benefits yourself.

I have an uncle rather like you. Lifer in the Air Force, racist, mocker of progress, of anything decent in this world. When he retired from the Air Force, his buddies helped him get another Government job in the Forest Service and he stayed there until he was able to collect Social Security. Now he’s old, crippled, collecting various gov’mint pensions + Social Security. He rags and rages about “Welfare Queens”, lazy teachers and Mexicans even as he hobbles on his bad knees with his Government paid-for walker to his Medicare appointments. All his adult life his lips have been planted firmly around the Government Tit even as everything he’s ever done has been to destroy those opportunities for others. Needless to say, his hypocrisy is obvious to everyone but himself. He’s also spent the last several Christmases alone. My cousins are more than a little upset that everything he believes in works to destroy their world and the world of his grandchildren even as he claims those benefits for himself.

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By SEEK TRUTH, February 27, 2011 at 12:12 pm Link to this comment


Do you actually believe any Company will admit to themselves or their shareholders that they can’t run a non-union company better than the Union shop? For your information they are still trying and maybe they will succeed in finding the right combination of non-union workers that will outproduce the union workers, or they will just shut-down the Union Shop; there are many ways to solve a prickly problem.

as for BULL-SHIT,YOU aught to no one when you see it - mirrrors don’t lie!!

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By Leefeller, February 27, 2011 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

Usually I do not discuss personalities on these hollow threads, but I will make one of my many exceptions.

Rico is no GRYM! (I suspect they would not even be in the same room)!

For one thing, Rico will discuss an issue, GRYM will not.  It seems prudent for all discussion to have different points of view, Rico provides them, GRYM provides very little in the way of points except the ones on top of his head.

The fact I may disagree with Rico on issues should not demand I insult him, on the other hand GRYM does!

So my conclusion is Rico is no GRYM! So Ardee I feel you went overboard once again!

By the way Rico,  what makes the Teachers job cushy?

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By rico, suave, February 27, 2011 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

“once stated plainly that the wholesale murdering of Arabs was the only possible solution to terrorism”

Please show me the plain quote, you slandering bastard.

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By Inherit The Wind, February 27, 2011 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

The Governor is a liar.
The union has already agreed to the cost-savings measures he’s demanded.
Therefore Collective Bargaining has no impact on Wisconsin’s budget or deficit.
He just wants to break unions.
The budget deficit reasoning for ending collective bargaining is a vicious lie, and THE GOVERNOR KNOWS IT!

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By ardee, February 27, 2011 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

I would remind the posting community that this misplaced comma of a poster once stated plainly that the wholesale murdering of Arabs was the only possible solution to terrorism.

His latest effort states rather baldly that he is in favor of that which benefits himself but opposed to that which benefits anyone else. I wonder if anyone has seen Rico and GRYM in the same room?

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By rico, suave, February 26, 2011 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment


I’m no more a guv’mint hater than you. I love the Dept of Defense, the FBI, and the CIA, the DEA, Border Patrol, Customs, ATF, DOT, even the SEC. Really. LOVE THOSE GUYS! Who do you love in the government?

Actually, I don’t see any hypocrisy. I haven’t had a pension increase in two years. And, truth be told, I’d accept a benefit freeze forever if it helped balance the budget.

When did I say I disapproved of government pensions? Just because I think teachers have it cushy, doesn’t mean I think they shouldn’t earn pensions.

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By Steve E, February 26, 2011 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment

I know this is an off the cuff simplification but, workers run to unions for
protection and representation while employers run to their union, consisting of
corporate cuddling politicians for the same reasons. Then there is the Supreme
Court, that is now infested with corporate loving judges

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By Peetawonkus, February 26, 2011 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

rico, suave,
Excuse me, but didn’t you used to be a lifer in the military, until you retired from that? And don’t you collect a pension? And don’t you get other benefits, courtesy your government connection? It seems to me the government has been mighty good to you. As one of the professional gov’mint haters on TruthDig, do you see any hypocrisy or double standard in your position?

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By rico, suave, February 26, 2011 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment


“The interesting fact is the union shop has always out-produced the non-union shops”

If that were true, the US workforce would be 100% union and management would be thrilled. Do you think for a minute that management would reduce productivity (=profit) just to spite a union?

That’s not an interesting fact at all- it’s bullshit.

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By Sabagio, February 26, 2011 at 6:24 pm Link to this comment

I’m a former union member ,  steel and construction.  I paid my dues so I know what’s going on here is scary.  Denial of hard earned collective bargaining right by political flunkies who’ve been sucking on the corporate Political Action Committee tit their whole careers in public service in wrong regardless of how one feels about unions and organized labor.

But there is a Whirlwind out there, and the winds they are arising.  The State House windbags of today will be reaping The Whirlwind of tomorrow.

I GOT AN EMAIL APPEAL FROM SEN SHERROD BROWN OF OHIO. MY RESPONSE WAS: I’d have a little more respect for you elected officials who want to take advantage of the acts of the desperate if I heard how you and your colleagues are going on the web or on the phone contacting the multi millionaire union members in Hollywood, New York actors and writers and the Major Leagues: baseball, football, basketball…and all the other money making walkers and talkers and runners and writers, and others who live by playing with balls, and ice skates and runners and throwers who has profited by the sacrifices made by those who went before them in the steel mills , the coal mines , trucks and docks and tenant farms, and bean and cabbage fields, the poor and abused workers who were tired of being tired and hungry and being slaves who had to rent out their labor for what they could get to feed and house their families.  Do we want our people taught by teachers making a living that is just above the poverty level?  Do we want to be cared for by nurses and hospital workers who have to supplement their take home pay by stealing from the most vulnerable of their patients? Desperate peoples do desperate things, take desperate actions when they collectively and spontaneously reach that point that they have nothing to lose by marching and demonstrating their and anger and rage in public because The Big Lie, that they never had it so good,  no longer works.  Tyrants and despots in North Africa and the Middle East are experiencing the product of that collective rage and frustration right now.  The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe got their comeuppance a score of years ago with the start of the velvet revolution, when their peoples began abandoning their jobs and homes and tinker toy cars and walked in The West for toward and uncertain future singing We Shall Overcome, because it can’t get any worse than if we stayed here in the Worker’s Paradise.  The political leadership in this country are in denial if they think that it can’t happen here. When it happens are you going to call out the National Guard and shoot unarmed citizens in the streets and on college campuses like Kent State.  It’s happened in this country before.  It can again, believe it. 

Sabagio Mauraeno, medically indigent and listening to Congress people and State governors say that they’re going to repeal health care reform program because it costs too much, and those who don’t like it can just go off and die somewhere, but don’t expect anybody to pay for the funeral

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By Bill, February 26, 2011 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Yes, America still needs a Union.”
Perhaps this would be the real story that should be told.
There is no plural in the original definition of “Union”. Unions have become exclusive clubs where benefits are granted to members only. Hardly an organization dedicated to the rights of all workers.
I agree with the fundamental principles and goals of the union.
Many members of unions today, are the first ones to line up at wal-mart and cosco, instead of spending at stores with union representation.
These same members will quibble over what they think is the minimum fair value of my labor when I work for them.
And lets face it: Union members have been voting (or not voting at all…) republican for years, otherwise how do they keep getting in?
The only way that things will change for all of us is when we are all paddling the same boat. So, the sooner we can get these clubs out of the way, the sooner we can get down to the nitty gritty with the likes of the Koch Brothers.

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By Leefeller, February 26, 2011 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

I suspect if they changed the word union to something else it would be a bit more palatable to people who like to equate the word Union, with the long choreographed association to socialism.

It has always been an ongoing tactic of special interests to label selected pains in their arses as socialism. So it was decided to suggest any social issue such as unions as a connotation linked with communism, and of course red. Brain washing of this sort has been commonplace and has been ongoing since the Robber Barron’s, and especially on the issue of unions!

Steelworkers fought this same kind of battle and lost back in the early 20 century. Bought and paid for by the good old boys.

If a person doesn’t support or want unions that should be their choice, but collective bargaining should be a right.

It seems the Republicans believe no one should have rights or options the Republicans do not believe in, especially if it does not fit their comfort zone. Some sort of mental control thingy?

The simple fact is our economy is sucking wind, things seem really negative.  Some people who do not feel a need for unions, should not deny the right to others.

What seems to be happening, is people feel helpless and do not feel they have any options, so they also want others to be in the same boat?
That is why Republicans seem to like homeless people, it clearly means they are not on the bottom of the heap!

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By SEEK TRUTH, February 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

There is a misconception that Union members in general are lazy and not worth the money they are paid. I have experience as a union worker and as a manager in a company that had/has a union shop and non-union shops. The interesting fact is the union shop has always out-produced the non-union shops and even though they have the highest hourly pay, that plant always has the highest profit margin.

Is it possible that union comradire is conducive to good efficient work, as opposed to cut-throat competition resulting in poor quality and excessive rework/scrap?

I discovwered that the Union shop that I worked in was suffering from extremely poor management that was compensated by the number of employees they supervised, not by the quantity of product produced. Front-Line Supervisors looked the other way when workers talked or took long toilet breaks. The environment was stiffling to most workers and was a diservice to the Union because it cast a shadow on them as an organization.

Top-Management has always been the problem, and it is obviously the problem in State Government, with Wisconsin now becoming a prime example.

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By christian96, February 26, 2011 at 1:26 am Link to this comment

I was raised in a coal mining community in West
Virginia where my father worked 40 years in the mines.  I worked 6 months on midnight shift while
attending college.  I had a personality conflict
with my boss.  He fired me.  I made a case with the
union and got my job back.  Who’s going to represent
people who have personality conflicts with bosses
when they don’t have a union?  No one!  You may have
forgotten about the men who died recently in a coal
mines in West Virginia because they didn’t have enough oxygen to last until the rescue team got to
them.  It was a non-union mine.  The miners only had
30 minutes of oxygen.  A tragedy!  A union mine could
have had 30 DAYS of oxygen, food, and water placed
throughout the mine.  What do the owners care?  They
don’t!  Just drag the dead bodies out and hire a few
more miners.  I thought Obama was going to do something about it.  Forget it!  He’s just a smiling
puppet for the rich and greedy.  He promised to do
away with income tax on Social Security for people
making less than $50,000 a year.  That promise went
down the toliet along with most other promises.  Now,
the IRS is after me because I refused to pay income
tax on my Social Security.

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By rico, suave, February 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm Link to this comment


Yes they do. And yes I was a member. I could go into a long explanation about how airline pilots got some fantastic contracts back in the 60s due to the replacement of props with jets, but I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that our “golden years” are way in the past. ALPA, like the UMW, UAW, Teamsters are trying to relive the glory days, but, to paraphrase The Boss, “they ain’t coming back.”

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By TDoff, February 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm Link to this comment

The unions that should be outlawed are the ones that straight GOP and Tea Party couples make that result in baby GOPers and Tea Partiers.

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By prisnersdilema, February 25, 2011 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment

Don’t Airline pilots have a union, Rico…?

Are you a member?....

If your not then we know what that makes you… a scab…

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By RedwoodGuy, February 25, 2011 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

Name any working person you know who doesn’t negotiate for the highest possible wage they can get from an employer. Can’t do it, because there aren’t any. Every working person unconsciously understands that they are selling their labor in a market, and are entitled to whatever price they can get. They understand by intuition their interests.

But, now brainwash these same people with endless 24/7 establishment propaganda using TV and newspapers - all owned by, well, The Management, and in no time at all you have the bizarro world where plumbers are accusing teachers of making too much, and working man fights working man.

Perfect. And who is leading the charge to divide and conquer? DemoPublicans, of course. And who is blowing the horn for these establishment thieves? Who are the stars of this brainwashing operation? The NYT, the O’Reilly Factor, the HuffPo, the Daily Show, FOX News, and all the other “party apparatus” assembled against human intuition and common sense.

There’s no escaping it. In case watching the boob toob itself isn’t enough, we have to place all the important clips on web sites too. God forbid anyone avoid the onslaught. Then write blogs about the TV shows, and then tweet about the blogs, and finally get a new column about all the excitement on the tweets. ‘Round and ‘round we go in the media echo chamber. Soak-Wash-Rinse-Repeat.

Right, because blogging has stopped the torture in Gitmo. Right, because blogging has stopped the Global War on Terror. Because blogging has stopped the Banksters from grand theft, huh?


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By rico, suave, February 25, 2011 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

It will be a sad day when the Wisconsin Teachers Union is disempowered.

I’m absolutely sure the incidence of black lung disease and asbestosis will positively soar. All air conditioning and heating will be shut down in schools. School days will run from 7am to 9pm, Monday through Saturday for 12 months a year.

Teachers as young as ten will be forced to teach kndergarteners for minimum wage.

Teachers will be forced to contribute to their own retirements, and buy their own health insurance from Obamacare, Inc.

They will ALL be required to know how to read and write, and otherwise be competent in their field of education, or risk being fired.

It’s going to be a sickening spectacle I tell ya.

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By rico, suave, February 25, 2011 at 10:30 am Link to this comment

Big B:

“Don’t want to confuse you with too many facts, but the most prosperous years in the history of the USA were when the unions were strongest, taxes were highest, and regulation was the most agressive, 1935 to 1975.”

Thanks for not confusing us with ANY facts.

1935-1947- Prosperous? My parents and grandparents would beg to differ.

1947-1969- Only comparatively- the rest of the world was still flat on it’s ass from WWII.

And by your “facts,” it ended in 1975- just about the time Nixon’s (!) OSHA and EPA regulations started kicking in. What “aggressive” regulations are you talking about? Taft-Hartley? Wagner? Closed shops? “Regulating” the shape of a scab’s head?

You can’t prove any correlation between prosperity and union “strength” with your “facts”.

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By oddsox, February 25, 2011 at 7:51 am Link to this comment

prisnersdilema, thanks so much for sharing this!

Yes, yes, break up the big banks!
“Too-Big-to-Fail is Too-Big-to-Begin-With!”

I’ve been blogging this idea about for well over 2 years (including a letter to all my reps + Obama & Biden and several times here on TruthDig), it’s great to see KC Fed Res Prez Hoenig on board. 
Robert Reich also hints at it as an overlooked solution in his book “Aftershock,” wish he’d have gone deeper with it.

The goal is not to punish the banks, but to create more competition between them. 
Better local lending practices, increased employment and lower CEO pay will be happy by-products.
(Actually, let the stockholders pay their new CEOs as much as they dare… but no bailouts this time)

AT&T’s 1985 breakup can serve as a model, as can the Trust Busting during the first two decades of the 20th century (cattle, steel, railroad, oil trusts).
There is ample precedent under ani-trust legislation.

And the timing couldn’t be better!
Most of the TARP money has been repaid now, all of it from the big banks we’ll be busting; only about $2B of principle left outstanding spread out among 500-odd smaller banks, most owing $100M or less.
Even though nearly all the $245B has now been paid back, the TARP bailout was an act of extortion upon the American people!. 
Time now to Break up the Bigs so it’ll never happen again. 

Thanks again, prisnersdilema

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By ardee, February 25, 2011 at 6:49 am Link to this comment

Those who believe unions are outdated or unnecessary should watch the new “Real Time”. A terrific discussion as to the real motivation behind this far right wing effort to end unions in America.

Hint…unions are the strength behind the Democratic Party. Whether one believes that this party is at all effective or not the only thing worse than the current Duopoly is a single party dedicated to remaking America as a feudal state.

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By Steve E, February 25, 2011 at 1:04 am Link to this comment

Barack Obama 2007 : “And understand this: If American workers are being denied
their right to organize and collectively bargain when I,m in the Whitehouse, I will
put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll walk on that picket line with you as
President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that
somebody is standing in their corner.”

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By prisnersdilema, February 25, 2011 at 12:47 am Link to this comment

Yes, we all know what the problem is…

Corporate media is not likely to cover this story..

Kansas City Fed Chief calls for the break up of Wall Street.

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By Conden, February 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm Link to this comment

Yes, we still need something much more radical than the weakened, dated, anti-youth union movement that spends its money to elect right wing democrats.  We need to take away corporate personhood, fire the board of directors, and turn these companies into cooperatives that are worker owned, democratically run, and give everyone an equal, living wage without having to bargain with billionaires at the top.

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By oddsox, February 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

Paul Jay’s Wisconsin estate tax proposal might carry some weight were it not so draconian. 
Dial it back and Wisconsin’s wealthy just might sit still for it as part of an overall austerity program. 

Otherwise, I hear the Caymans are nice this time of year.

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By Taruna, February 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm Link to this comment

Paul Jay of The Real News Network talks about an alternative “something has to
give” plan for Wisconsin

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By christian96, February 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

You folks are misspelling “Koch.”  It is actually
spelled “Cock” for that is what Gov. Walker will
use to screw the people.

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By jlt, February 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The history is both sides…the union era had its pros and cons!  The corporate magnets made millions on the cheap labor—adult and children—-the unions came around and bit them in the rear!

We have a huge wage disparity in the USA today—brought to us by the same nonregulated corporations or their comglommerates that fleeced the people through the industrial age…A top down society will not sustain..we will fold….Please read the Shock Doctrine about this manufactured WI crisis and the other issues the right wing wealthy are pushing on the middle class!

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By oddsox, February 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment

Conason is correct as far as he goes.
But he misses a massive point central to the Wisconsin situation:

Read David Brooks’ NY Times op-ed piece by below.
He explains it better than I can. 
And he offers a solution.  Good read!

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By Big B, February 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment


Don’t want to confuse you with too many facts, but the most prosperous years in the history of the USA were when the unions were strongest, taxes were highest, and regulation was the most agressive, 1935 to 1975.

there is not much that can be said for anyone who still believes that bullshit spread around by conservatives about unions killing the american auto and steel industry.

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By prisnersdilema, February 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment

Detroit was destroyed by the greedy corporations themselves. Well documented by
Michael Moore In Roger and Me.

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By rollzone, February 24, 2011 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

hello. Jimmy Hoffa is in the building. the nice old
lady was correct. unions have grown obsolete. we have
sweat shops and migrant illegal visitor labor abuses
from the lack of enforcement from bureaucratic
handcuffing alphabet agencies from the top. the unions
destroyed Detroit, which was no small accomplishment.
the little Detroits all over the nation are suffering
and struggling, under union yokes operating above free
market capacity. if anyone thinks corporate greed and
stock holder interests were ever held in check by a
union, and not employee ownership- name one.

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By Queenie, February 24, 2011 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

Of course the U.S. still needs unions! People need the right to organize for better working conditions, pay and benefits. But if that buttfuck Walker gets his way, backed by the Koch brothers, unions will be as rare as hen’s teeth.

Any gains the union movement has made has been a blessing to ALL workers. Do we want our kids and our grandchildren working 60 hours+ a week for pauper wages with no safety regulations and no rights to even a bathroom break? What the hell is this country, anyway? CHINA??

In a country that voted for Bush twice, (legally or otherwise) I expect nothing without a fight. The corporations have really done a good job convincing the Yahoos in the nutty teabag movement that unions are the enemy. As if.

U.S.A. = Profits before people. Every time.

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By prisnersdilema, February 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

This article is far too tame.

“They ought to think again—unless they want their children and grandchildren to become the peons of a corporate oligarchy.”

This has already happened, we are all prisoners of the corporations, who have trampled the consitution, and sold out this country to the PRC.

In the future our soldiers will face our own technology, in battle because the corporations have exported it to those that mean us ill.

Wars may be fought on the battlefield, but they are won in the factories by working men and women. In which case we have already lost, because our factories are gone, along with the jobs overseas.

The traitorous corporations no longer have the best interests of this country at heart, they have betrayed us all for a few pieces of silver.

Free American’s didn’t used to accept slavery, now were told to accept it by the corporate running dogs, the Rethuglican party.

The Rethuglican party is a a criminal enterprise run, with the sole aim of the continued slavery of the American people. As the last factory closes and the last American job goes over seas, they will be standing on the dock happily waving goodbye, counting their cash, and telling starving American children to suck it up.

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By Rodney, February 24, 2011 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Wake up America. To the Republicans this is the next
best thing to slavery. Imagine no workers rights. You
could get terminated for any reason. They could
change the working conditions. Don’t like it quit.
Getting paid for overtime could be a thing of the
past. Paid vacations could be a thing of the past.
Providing health insurance to employees could be a
thing of the past, it almost is now. Workman’s
Compensation could be a thing of the past. Pensions
could become a thing of the past. That’s behind the
reason the want to dismantle Social Security. Raises
could become a thing of the past. We would all become
indentured servants. That is the goal of the right
wing tea bagging Republicans who won the last
election. After gambling and stealing 14 trillion
dollars worth of our pension funds, we bailed them
out. Now these same folks now want to turn public
employees and union workers into slaves. It is
happening right before our eyes. They have used fear,
hatred,bigotry, guns, god ,gays, and division amongst
the races to destroy America from within. First with
affirmative action, then with illegal immigrants.
They continued to destroy America by rewriting the
tax laws to their benefit the wealthy, shipping
American jobs overseas, and shifting wealth from the
middle class to the wealthy Corporations. They
intentionally rang up huge deficits through tax
breaks for the wealthy in order make sure the middle
class become poor and the poor become desperate. The
consequence of union busting is their hope of
destroying the Democratic Party. Then Master
Republican can once again take his rightful position
as the owner of America.

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By, February 24, 2011 at 11:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Corporations and big business care about profit and not employees. Productivity is up with less employees because corporations and businesses are requiring people to do more for less money. Unions assure a fair playing field and protect and defend employees. Unions have fought for a 40 hour work week, an 8 hour work day, the right of assembly, bargaining rights and better pay and working conditions. Our parents and grandparents fought for these rights and we will honor them by continuing the fight to keep them.
We are with you Wisconsin.

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By Big B, February 24, 2011 at 11:09 am Link to this comment

I was once in the crowd that thought the need for organized labor in america had passed. But the numbers have proven that thought to be just plain wrong.

When you see that real wages and benefits for the clear majority of the american working class have actually gone down in the last 30 years (benefits have taken a particularly hard hit)you cannot help but realize what has happened in the post union era. American corporations, with the threat of organized labor drastically limited, have gone back to doing business the old fashioned way, the way they did it prior to the 1920’s (you know, Trusts, monopolys, child labor, 60 hour work weeks, no healthcare, no retirement, you know, the good ‘ol days)

I fear that labor has been so damaged in the last 30 years that it may take another “labor movement” the likes of the one that followed the Homestead steel strike. Unfortunately, many men had to die at the start of the labor movement in the late 19th century to wake americans to the lives of serfdom that americans lived in company towns that dotted the landscape. But like many tribulations in life, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you try to lift yourself up.

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By bpawk, February 24, 2011 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

A lot of people don’t like unions because it makes them realize they are part of the working/lower middle class (most people actually fall into that economic category) and not part of the upper class whom they celeb-worship (look at how popular celeb-worship articles are even in business journals). False consciousness takes hold of most people - they identify with rich sports and movie star celebs and not their own class at their peril - if you spend a lot of time/energy celeb-worshipping and identifying with the rich, it takes time/energy away from dealing with your real economic situation in the here and now - not what you wish your life to be if you were rich.

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By ardee, February 24, 2011 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

Those critics who claim that unions have become corrupted by the high salaries of the top management have a point. But to end all union protections is a drastic and rather dangerous step, and one that omits thought regarding the reasons that unions are a target.

Public employees are being attacked for their pension and other benefits, yet those were earned, by unions by the by, in lieu of raises. A deal signed by both parties is not subject to dismissal by only one of those designators.

I hear only a deafening silence regarding the salaries, pensions and health care benefits of our legislators, a package which exceeds the best deals of any worker in America by a great deal indeed. Whatever happened to leading by example?

Further, with all the talk of economic ruin necessitating such drastic cuts, one hears nothing at all about a bloated military budget, not one word. Nor do I hear any legislator standing up and suggesting that leaving Iraq and Afghanistan might save this nation a bundle. No, all one hears is talk of cutting where it hurts the most, education, senior assistance, women’s health, not where cuts are most needed.

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By Sasquatch, February 24, 2011 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

Now is the time we really need Unions. Individually we
are always vulnerable, but when the economy is tight we
are especially vulnerable and we need to stick together
to keep whatever we can. Many businesses and
institutions would love to use the weak economy to get
rid of all their workers and start again with people
who will work cheaper. After they succeed everyone who
works for a living will suffer. Keep up the good fight
Wisconsin workers.

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